Bodybuilders frequently seek to develop the abdominal muscles, as this particular area creates a powerful, attractive looking physique. In hopes of achieving the most impressive abdominal appearance, bodybuilders frequently implement body weight exercises such as crunches or sit-ups, and may even enhance resistance by adding weight to induce failure within a lower rep range, taxing the abdominal muscles with sufficient intensity and overload to theoretically improve appearance.

But is the commonly held belief that crunches are the most effective abdominal exercise yet another in the myriad of bodybuilding myths? Not exactly, but the idea that direct abdominal training is the key to enhancing stomach appearance is a very misleading connotation, as exercise is actually the least important concept in producing impressive abdominal definition, since a proper diet is the basis behind the success of any correctly structured abdominal muscle enhancing routine.

For abdominal muscles to achieve the impressive appearance all bodybuilders strive for, muscle size need not necessarily increase by any significant margin, but body fat, which covers abdominal muscles and hides their shape, must decline dramatically to improve definition, which is the very goal that any bodybuilder seeking to enhance the mid-section is striving for. Although in other muscle groups, weight training is normally the method used to improve muscle appearance, abdominal definition is more contingent upon body fat percentage than mid-section muscle size improvements, therefore a properly designed fat loss diet routine is the basis for producing a streamlined, muscular abdominal section.

What many bodybuilders fail to realize is that performing a large number of abdominal crunches or sit-ups will cause very little if any stomach appearance improvements unless accompanied by significant body fat reduction, and the latter goal does not depend in any way upon direct abdominal training, but rather is contingent on whether diet variables are correctly constructed for consistent fat loss, and this not only involves the correct calorie intake for a bodybuilder's individual metabolism, but proper protein, carbohydrate, and fat ratios so that sufficient macronutrients are present to create an ideal fat burning environment for abdominal definition improvement. The number of bodybuilders who endlessly perform abdominal crunches or sit-ups without any visible mid-section appearance improvement is staggering, and due to lackluster results, they then seek alternative abdominal sculpting exercises, when in fact, direct stomach training is not related to mid-section definition, and any bodybuilder in such a situation is in desperate need of a modified, efficient fat loss diet plan.

In addition to a correctly designed diet structure, a bodybuilder should implement aerobic activity five days per week when he or she is attempting to improve definition in any part of the body, as although aerobic exercise does not greatly impact abdominal appearance when following a poorly designed diet routine (which is why many mistakenly assume aerobics is wasteful), cardio activity will greatly enhance the speed of fat loss when used in conjunction with a potent diet philosophy. As you'll notice, I have yet to place emphasis upon abdominal crunches or sit-ups, the two most often sought after solutions by bodybuilders attempting to significantly enhance abdominal appearance, as despite their popularity, such exercises actually rank last in terms of priority when aiming for abdominal appearance improvements, behind aerobic activity, and the most important factor which numerous bodybuilders neglect to address, a systematically structured fat loss bodybuilding diet routine which will encourage fat reduction from all areas.

The benefits of pursuing a fat loss phase do not only relate to abdominal enhancement, but will actually cause the biceps, chest, arms, and all other muscle groups to appear larger, specifically because they become more shapely with the missing layers of fat. So, when you are seeking to improve abdominal appearance, remember that crunches and sit-ups are far less important than pursuing effective fat loss diet techniques, despite the hype you've heard surrounding crunches. When you decide to aim for body fat reduction, you need not fear muscle loss if you continue to employ proper weight training workout techniques, and make certain to avoid drastically reducing caloric intake or following a low carbohydrate diet plan, both of which can quickly burn away muscle tissue, and will degrade, as opposed to enhance, overall body appearance. Lastly, I recommend that you continue performing abdominal crunches or sit-ups, but know that the layer of fat must disappear before the fruits of your labor become apparent, and this is directly linked to how you eat, not abdominal workload.

Author's Bio: 

Francesco Castano is the owner of IncrediBody, a physical fitness company dedicated to helping others learn exactly how to gain muscle mass and lose weight without supplements or drugs. He authors two programs, one called MuscleNOW, teaching the correct weight training and diet program to gain muscle mass without bodybuilding supplements at, and Fat Vanish, which teaches how to lose weight & burn stomach fat for permanent weight loss, at He includes lifetime email personal training with both programs, where he personally assists all of his clients with training and diet questions, and has hundreds of testimonials validating the effectiveness of his techniques. He also offers weight lifting equipment, protein powder and fitness accessories at Please visit his web sites, and feel free to contact Francesco at any time with your muscle building or weight loss questions!